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What to know about new Virginia special teams coordinator Ricky Brumfield

Sixteen-year special teams veteran brings strong track record to Charlottesville

NCAA Football: Georgia Tech at Virginia Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

With just a few hours before the Virginia Cavaliers are set to kick off against the Navy Midshipmen in the Military Bowl, the Hoos have reportedly filled the tenth assistant coach position that will be permitted starting in 2018. UT-San Antonio coordinator Ricky Brumfield appears to be set to join the coaching staff in Charlottesville in the new year.

Here’s what you need to know about him.

UTSA’s special teams were better than UVA’s in 2017.

And by a LOT. Some of the numbers were in the piece here on STL: more than 10 yards better defending per punt return, and 70 spots higher ranked in net punting.

The advantage is borne out in advanced metrics too. Virginia’s special teams S&P+ ranked 79th nationally in 2017; UTSA ranked 25th. Of the five special teams categories measured in Bill Connelly’s team profiles, UVA was better than the Roadrunners in just two: both of the return categories. Brumfield’s unit also rated at least 25 spots higher on both punt defense and kickoff defense.

Brumfield has a history of turning around special teams units.

Before he joined the staff at UTSA, Brumfield was the special teams coordinator and cornerbacks coach for Western Kentucky, from 2013 to 2015. His 2015 Hilltoppers were 11th nationally in special teams S&P+. Most of that was due to a very good placekicker in Garrett Schwettman, who hit 94 percent of his field goals and 79 of 80 extra points en route to being named first-team All-Conference USA and a Lou Groza Award semifinalist.

UTSA in 2015, by comparison, was a disaster. 128 teams played FBS football in the 2015 season. And UTSA ranked 126th in special teams S&P+. That’s ... bad.

In just one season, Brumfield brought the Roadrunners up to 77th. UTSA’s profile in 2016 mirrors the 2017 Virginia profile: miserable in field goal value, mediocre in one of kick coverage and punt coverage but abysmal in the other, and strongest in the return stats. Sounds like Brumfield knows what he’s walking into at UVA and—more importantly—how to fix it.

He doesn't have any apparent ties to Virginia.

What, you thought this was going to be unmitigated good news?

Prior to UTSA and Western Kentucky, Brumfield had stints at Nicholls State (Louisiana), Fairmont State (West Virginia), and Union College (Kentucky). While the two Kentucky gigs and the Fairmont State position put him within Virginia’s preferred recruiting footprint, they don’t count for what many UVA fans may have been looking for in the tenth assistant: someone with roots that are broad and deep, especially in the 757 and the Richmond area.

Here’s the counterpoint. Nothing attracts recruits like winning. And poor special teams play has been the biggest hindrance to Virginia winning over the past decade. If Brumfield can get that house in order, that will be enough to count as doing his part.